The Dysmey Blog
The personal weblog of Andy West.

August 2010
« Jul   Sep »
Two × Two Shoes and Sugru
Filed under: General
Posted by: Andy @ 9:37 pm

First, I want to thank everyone for their kind condolences for the death of Padre. I appreciate them.

It is quiet now at Casa de Madre.

Last week I stopped by Madre’s house with my pair of steel-toed shoes. I bought the shoes a couple of months ago from Sears, which had them on sale. As they were 10½ wide, I thought they would fit well. And they do, for the most part, except that they rub my toes hard. After a day of wearing the shoes, my toes are bruised. Being diabetic, I cannot afford bruised toes, lest they become no toes at all!

Anyway, I brought the shoes (after Madre called my cell to remind me), so that my brother Bill can try them on. The shoes fit, so he got them.

Madre is sorting through Padre’s clothes, including his shoes. I chose two brand-new or bearly worn shoes that happen to fit my feet. All his shoes are 11 wide; but to shoemakers, ‘wide’ is a relative term. Padre has a pair of dress shoes which he wore only once (to his sister’s funeral). These are labelled 11 wide; but the shoes crush my feet, so I cannot wear them. Most of the other shoes are well-worn, and I already have shoes like that!

As for the rest of his clothes, neither Bill nor I can wear them: He is too tall and thin, and I am too fat and my arms too long.

I also got back the Braun blender I got for Padre as an XMas present in 2004. Padre had used it a few times. Then it was put back in its box, put under a table in the dining room, and forgotten until it made its way onto a shelf in the garage.

I ordered two items during the past two weeks. One was for two LED lamps like the one I installed over the kitchen sink. It has not come yet; when it does, it will go in the space under the stairs, where is little illumination.

The other order was for sugru, described by the customs sticker on the package that came today as non-hazardous silicone domestic repair material. Its Web site, from which I ordered the stuff, describes it better.

Its use is simple. It comes in five-gram sachets, six to a package. Open a sachet to find a blob of sugru the size of a man’s thumb. Work it in your hand and apply it to whatever you want within thirty minutes of opening. It cures into a tough, firm material.

I am putting sugru to the test on one of my pairs of SAS shoes, which has developed hollows in their soles from extended use. I have filled those hollows with sugru to see if it will further extend the life of those shoes.

Comments Off
The Bad Week, Part II
Filed under: General
Posted by: Andy @ 10:39 pm

the visitation

Tuesday afternoon was the visitation. There was a closed casket flanked by flowers from the board of trustees and Friends of the local library. It was evident that Padre was a private person, as these were the only flowers (apart from the wreath on top of the casket). On a flat-screen television in one corner was a collage of photos of Padre during his life, from high school through his military service, his marriage to Madre, his life with us kids, his ultralight hobby and his vacations out west.

Among the folks who showed up for the visitation were:

And, near the end of the visitation, my brother’s family, consisting of his ex-wife and their four children.

Among the interesting things that came out of the visitation.

the service

The next morning was the service. It was very short, no more than twenty minutes, held at a blue awning over the spot where Padre would be buried. The Rev. Leo Moore, who used to work at Dana with Padre and who is now a minister at a chapel that was once the Baptists’ fellowship hall, gave a few words of comfort and encouragement to those of us who attended — all my family except my sister/editor, who feared having to listen to Bible verses — an unwarranted fear as the Reverend gave none.

yard waste burning

After the service I changed clothes and got to work burning the mound of vegetation, that had been accumulating since last fall. It was a nice change of pace, as I used to like burning trash until the town forbade it in the early 1990’s. After hours of burning, I came to know that it was impossible to burn it all in the time I had. So, I got some yard bags from home and filled seven bags of hay, weeds, sticks and branches. Even then, at the end of the afternoon, there was still some stuff left. There was also a lot of soil formed from composted material. Bill suggested Madre hire a mini-bulldozer to scrape up the soil.

another visitation

I washed up, put on some clean clothes, and returned to the funeral home one more time. Capping a very bad week, I learned that Roger, one of the two owners of the Giant bar and grill (ex-classmate Anna Justus is the other) died suddenly Sunday morning. I went to pay my respects and offer consolances to Anna. This has been a very bad year for her: First her nephew Titus gets killed in car/train crash a block and a half from my house. (The crossing now has stop signs to prevent this from happening again.) Then her father pass away. And now, this.

the saving of the stage

As an aside, while I was walking home from Madre’s Tuesday morning I found a group of people at the old Fairmount High School, on a cherry-picker, opening one of the windows leading to the auditorium. I found that the group was the Lions Club, who had bought the stage inside and were going to dismantle and remove it from the building in order to store it. It is just as well: The building is doomed, and the Lions wanted to salvage the one remaining intact item from James Dean’s time here.

a wake

I did not know whether it was okay to get my usual Thursday evening dinner from the Giant bar and grill, now that one of its partners was no longer with us. When I visited, I found the place packed with revellers, with Anna dancing with some guy to music from the juke box. Hey, even my neighbors from next door were there! There were two thoughts going through my head at seeing this:

  1. Yep, that is definitely a wake.
  2. There is no way in the seven pits of hell that I can ever be heard over the noise.

So I left, intending to try again tomorrow.

Comments Off
The Bad Week
Filed under: General, Work
Posted by: Andy @ 1:49 pm

This has been a bad week, apart from Padre’s passing.

local library

This month’s library board meeting dealt with the budget, not only for next year, but for the rest of this year, too. In order to qualify for a cost-of-working increase for next year, plus the ability to repay an internal loan to our rainy-day fund, the board has had to cut $21,000 from the buudget for the remainder of this year. Everything had to be cut: Books, magazines, wages, supplies, utilities, the works. We were in session until a quarter to ten to get this done.

I sought to lighten the burden this would create by going to Sam’s Club and stocked the library with what is best called patron cleaning supplies.

I would like to remind everyone that the library exists not just for the books. People, especially those who cannot afford computers and an Internet connection, use our computers to look for jobs, type up resumes, and communicate with people who do have Internet access. It is our community’s access to the outside world. Threatening this, the existence of Fairmount’s library, just because the state of Indiana is in a spasm of parsimony over the excesses of Indianapolis and Muncie, is an exercise in folly that does our citizens no good.

On top of that, one of the board members appears to be over-enthusiastic: So much so as to create a conflict of interest. This needs to be resolved quickly.

yard work

I have compelled myself to mow Madre’s lawn and then my own, despite the incredible heat that we have been enduring over the past week. It is just as well: It rained heavily the next day.

ed res imacs

Since I will not in at work on Tuesday or Wednesday, I will have to come in early on Monday to finish the five remaining iMacs for Ed Res. I do not know when the Mac space will become available; nobody does. I want those machines to be ready when the time does come for them to be redeployed.

bioshock infinite

It has not been all bad.

There is a new Bioshock game coming. It is not known whether this will be Bioshock 3, but its basic themes — utopian setting, powered player, powered and armored enemies, and an internal guide — are the same as with the current two games. The overarching theme is not the biopunk of those two games, but steampunk.

Bioshock Infinite takes place in Columbia, a Laputa-like city floating over the American countyside. Its founding philosophy is an American imperialism, complete with eugenics, as corrupt as Andrew Ryan’s objectivism or Sofia Lamb’s collectivism. The resulting corruption is evident everywhere to your protagonist, a super-powered disgraced Pinkerton agent named Booker DeWitt, whose mission is to liberate from the city an equally super-powered woman named Elizabeth.

Outline of the Bioshock Series
Game Setting Player Guide Main Enemy
Bioshock Rapture Jack Ryan Atlas (1st ½)
Brigid Tenenbaum (2d ½)
Andrew Ryan (1st ½)
Frank Fontaine (2d ½)
Bioshock 2 Rapture Subject Delta Eleanor Lamb
Augustus Sinclair
Sofia Lamb
Bioshock Infinite Columbia Booker DeWitt Elizabeth unknown as yet

The announcement of the game came with a trailer:

You move across an ocean landscape until you see the outline of a city around which swims a big fish. It reminds you of the Bioshock trailer … but no: The fish is a goldfish, and the city is a nicknack commemorating the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. It turns out your head was in an aquarium, out of which you are pulled and flung to the floor. Your attacker is a hugh but crude cyborg. The cyborg picks you up and tosses you out a window. You view a city, with American flags flying from odd-looking towers, floating over farm fields miles below. That last detail becomes real to you as you fall a long way until you land on a blimp and manage to break your fall by grabbing its torn fabric.

As you hang from the blimp, catching your breath, you see more of the city: An American city from the early 20th century, complete with American flags and red-white-and-blue bunting hanging from buildings. As your blimp moves along, you see strange posters among the billboards. One has two children at a parapet, watching a parade, and the caption It is our HOLY DUTY — to protect them from the foreign hordes and treacherous anarchists. You pass another billboard of Columbia, the personification of the city, holding a healthy baby and rejecting a sickly one with the words Burden NOT Columbia with your CHAFF! Then you see a man dancing on a balcony to the music of a record player playing You’re A Grand Old Flag. Next comes a view of how these buildings can float: Giant bags of hot air are inflated around the foundation of a building, raising it into the air.

Suddenly, the fabric tears out of your hands, and you resume your fall. But, a cloud of roses emerge from a building. Your fall is broken, and you float towards a balcony wrapped in a rose briar. A young woman in a blue and gold dress has caught you with her mind and is pulling you towards her. Just as she is about to grab your hand, the hand of another cyborg emerges from the darkness behind her. It grabs the woman and pulls her inside. Her concentration broken, you resume your fall until you are smacked in the face by a rose.

Comments Off
Padre is gone.
Filed under: General
Posted by: Andy @ 1:01 pm

My father, Robert Andrew West, passed away Friday morning, just one month shy of eighty. He had been ill for several weeks, failing to recover from cancer.

He had been patient with me during the long time I had been in college, then in looking for a job good enough for me to move to a house of my own. Since his retirement, he and Madre had enjoyed road trips and vacations to Vegas, until the Muslim Attacks put an end to them. He had also enjoyed his hobby flying ultralights over the Indiana landscape.


I was told the visitation will be on Tuesday afternoon at the local funeral home, with a graveside service the following Wednesday morning.

Comments Off
Last Summer Vacation 2010 … That’s About It.
Filed under: General
Posted by: Andy @ 9:42 pm

The hospital discharged Madre on Friday. I did not realize this until I visited the folks’ house to feed the cats. She seems to be okay, but there would be no Sunday dinner while she recovers. And I will still check on the cats to make sure they are fed.

I had my own Sunday dinner consisting of steak and Zestie fries. The steak turned out to be bigger than I could handle in one go, so a third of it went into the fridge for me to eat later in the evening.

My sister the editor’s birthday was yesterday, so I got her a card and helped her mow her yard. Okay, I wanted to try out her electric lawnmower. It is a corded electric, running off a long yellow electric cable. It works quite well on her lawn, with the thick grass.

On Friday I drove to Indianapolis for the WhoNet meeting, which usually happens on the first Friday of the month. But not this month, which I should have found out if I had read this month’s issue of the Gallifreyan Gazette more thoroughly. When I got to the church, I found nobody from the club, the meeting room dark, and some strange singing in the background. I drove back and mailed off the mailing labels I usually bring with me.

I did a 64-bit installation of Windows 7 (Win7) this afternoon. It worked just fine, at least long enough to get the drivers and the basic set of programs (TextPad, Winamp, WinZip and Paint.NET) installed. After I installed Kaspersky AV and run its update, the machine crashed.

After trying to resurrect it for a few minutes, I left it alone for a couple of hours. Then I turned it back on, and it ran just fine. Evidently the problem is overheating: The motherboard goes bonkers if it gets too hot. So, I bought a crossflow fan like the one in the main computer. In the meantime, I cannot use Nabiki for more than an hour at a time.

Meanwhile, the ants are back, this time coming from the crack under the back door. I was ready with ant traps this time. I had to use the front door until the traps swept up enough of the little critters. After that came the chalk to seal up the crack under the back door.

Comments Off
Last Summer Vacation 2010, Part 2
Filed under: General, Work
Posted by: Andy @ 12:50 pm

My 32-bit incarnation of Windows 7 (Win7) has collapsed due to some hardware error that I cannot find. The blue screen of death gaves me the details, but it does not stay put long enough for me to read it. And Win7’s Startup Repair Program loads files and does nothing else. At this point, I have decided to let Nabiki rest until this coming weekend.

Wednesday evening was the book signing at the library for the Fairmount history photo book compiled by a local author/blogger. I bought two of the books and had one of them signed by the author herself. I also had ice cream and cake. But I could not stay.

I had to gather and take out the trash at the folks’ house, which would be Madre’s job if she were not in the hospital. Padre told me Madre’s room number at the hospital, so I drove down and paid her a visit. I was just in time for two nursing assistants to come in and take her vital signs. After a day in hospital, she sounds a whole lot better.

Oh yeah, the cold front came through, and with it some very nasty weather, which I drove through to and from the hospital … which I walked through in and out of the hospital. Even with an umbrella, I got wet. It also knocked out power over a large part of the state. I know I lost power because the clock on the microwave oven is out. Ball State lost power, too, because from the e-mail I read this morning the servers were down.

Speaking of those servers, I had to drive down to the office to fix the wireless printing server. I can restart the server remotely; I cannot fix remotely its tendency to add an extra step to every wireless print job. Well, I could, but I do not remember the password right off my head … which, I suppose, is the idea of password security. Anyway, I asked the folks to provided us with the service why I could not just turn off that extra step.

I had thought that I had to return to campus to redeploy the iMacs in the lower level. Nope: The carpetters are using that area as storage while they pull up the old carpeting and lay down the new in the lobby area.

Yesterday I mowed my lawn, now that the rains have brought the grass back up. Normally, I would shower after that, but I remembered promising to mow the folks’ grass as well. So I mowed the grass there as well. The folks think that their lawn is bigger than mine; it is only more complex because it has side lawns, gardens, laundry-hanging poles and the like; mine, in turn, is one big lawn with only a big maple tree and a basketball court to break the expanse. Their lawn is, in fact, smaller.

Then I learned that the hospital had moved Madre to another room, into an actual hospital room as opposed to the observational room she was originally in. Evidently the doctors decided that she needed to stay. So I paid her another visit, just in time for her to get her dinner.

This morning I had to clean out the outdoor catfood dish because it was full of goo. I had at first thought it was from the male cat, Sugarpuss, being overly slobbery. Then I learned from my sister the editor that the folks’ back yard has a resident slug … a big slug … a slug as long as a grown man’s hand. I have not seen this creature, but if I do, it will be dumped in the compost heap out back. Cat food is for cats, not for applicants to Yubâba’s bathhouse.

Comments Off
Last Summer Vacation 2010, Part 1
Filed under: General, Work
Posted by: Andy @ 9:34 pm

My vacation started with rain on Saturday, forcing me to put off mowing the lawn until later that evening. There was not much to mow, anyway, due to the dry weather. My yard is puck-marked with plantain, a broad weed that threatens the grass underneath it.

Later Saturday evening, I updated Windows and the folks’ anti-virus software on Madre’s laptop. That laptop, a Hewlett-Packard disaster, confirms my own decision to stick with hand-built generic computers or use ‘netbooks’, which are too limited in space, in memory and in processor speed to be packed with software junk.

Today I took my cat Thyme on her annual trip to the veterinarian. I wore thick vinyl gloves when quickly grabbing her and putting her into the carrier. I was only poked a couple of places on my arm. She was, naturally, exceptionally pissed. Anyway, Thyme was weighed (seven pounds), probed, and given her shots and her dewormer. Compared to last year, Thyme was relatively well-behaved. She waited until after she was put back into the carrier to express herself in effluvia. I has to clean out the carrier before putting it away for another year. As for Thyme herself, she hid herself when she got home … and forgot the whole thing a couple of hours later!

Shortly after I got home, some cement truck drove down Buckeye Street, snagged a utility line, and took down the pole it was connected to. I did not know it had happened until I went outside to fetch a ladder to examine the back gutter. I stopped to talk to some neighbors passing by, and noticed Buckeye blocked off, with two cherry-picker trucks working to restore the pole.

As for gutter itself, I can see where the water from the roof is bypassing the gutter and pouring onto my back door. Either I will have to find some way to fix this or call Handy Randy to see if he can do so.

On Sunday after lunch, I drove to Fry’s and bought myself a copy of Windows 7 Home Premium (Win7 henceforth). It was pricey, naturally, but at least the State has no reason to whine about sales tax lost from ordering online. As I did not want to screw up Madoka, my home box, I decided to test it out on Nabiki, the living room computer.

Nabiki is based on an Asus A8N-VM CSM motherboard with an Athlon 64 processor and an nVIDIA GeForce 6150 / nForce 430 chipset. In other words, the computer uses a five-year-old board whose latest drivers are for Windows XP. I should also add that the only part of the nVidia motherboard I still use is the audio: I have separate cards for video (nVIDIA GeForce 7300 GS) and network connection (US Robotics).

Anyway, after a day of installing, reinstalling and working the operating system over, I have found these:

So I decided to keep the 32-bit Win7 on Nabiki. On Tuesday I bought four new memory modules to give Nabiki its maximum of four gigabytes. True, as I found to my disappointment, 32-bit Win7 cannot handle four gigabytes, but at least it knows its there. I also got a fifty-foot CAT 5e network cable to replace the one I hand-made. I may not need it much longer, as I plan to make another attempt to hook up Nabiki to the television set.

Before I made that second trip to Fry’s for the memory and the cable, I visited Ball State to get a haircut (at the Student Center) and gather my new parking sticker (delivered to my cube). I also confirmed that our print job release software is good for another year: Renewing the license on all the stations in the library is one of my first tasks when I return to work.

I visited the folks’ house on my way to the local library for the monthly Library Friends meeting. I found both of my sisters there, and learned that Madre was on her way to the hospital to get her lungs cleaned out. Evidently the twice-a-day pumping of medicine into her lungs is not working. In the meantime, I will keep her cats fed.

Speaking of pets, my neighbors across Buckeye Street got a new dog: It is the same breed as Skippy (a Belgian Schipperke), and (judging from its snout) about the same age: The neighbors just saved it from euthanasia and named it Buddy.

Comments Off